A powerful Instagram post is shedding light on the medical challenges that can follow childbirth and celebrating moms’ scars.
Eighteen months ago, Kari Horn gave birth to her son via emergency C-section. Though becoming a parent has been a joyful experience for the Virginia mom, her postpartum journey involved umbilical hernias, more surgery and further complications.
While recovering from these complications, Horn posted a striking photo of her abdomen on Instagram to share her story and remind other struggling moms that they are not alone. In the caption, Horn described her photo as one of “the parts of motherhood they don’t talk about much.”
“Sometimes, despite what your dream of childbirth is, you have to have an emergency C-section,” she wrote. “Sometimes, no matter how much coconut and vitamin e oil you put on your pregnant belly, you still get all of the stretch marks.”
She added, “Sometimes, even when your baby is now a toddler, you find out that you have not 1, but 3 umbilical hernias, and you have to get your abs and muscles cut into again. Then sometimes you’re allergic to the bandaging the doctor used and end up with burns and a rash all over your already sore tummy.”
Horn won’t let the medical challenges and their physical remnants get her down, however. “Mothers are the real MVPs,” she wrote. “Don’t hate on yourselves, ladies. You’re beautiful no matter how many scars you get.”
Horn told The Huffington Post she decided to post the photo after struggling with negative self-perception and feeling inspired by similar posts from other women. “I thought maybe if I did it myself, it would help me through my slump, which it definitely did,” she said, adding that the positive feedback and encouragement from others made her feel much better about herself and what she’s gone through.
The mom has experienced quite a medical ordeal in her motherhood journey. “When we found out I was pregnant, we were all pretty shocked and worried, because up to that point, I had been made to believe that I couldn’t conceive because of endometriosis and a retroverted uterus,” Horn explained.
Though she ultimately could conceive, she had a higher risk of complications, experienced more than average discomfort and swelling, and needed to visit her doctor for more frequent check-ups throughout her pregnancy.
Horn’s water broke on the night of her due date. Because she was Group B strep positive, she needed to give birth as soon as possible in order to take antibiotics.
“Contractions were pretty tolerable for the first couple of hours and once they really kicked in, my body went into shock and I couldn’t stop shaking or vomiting, so I had to get an epidural to control that ― which didn’t end up helping with the pain at all, but it did make the vomiting stop,” the mom recalled.
By morning, her contractions were minutes apart but nothing had progressed. “They put me on pitocin and made me do miscellaneous leg exercises to try to speed up dilation, but I still didn’t progress any further,” she said. “By the afternoon, our baby had gone into serious distress, and they took us in for the caesarian.”
The delivery and recovery process went well, but after a few months, however, she realized she still had a bulge over her belly button. “I didn’t think anything of it until about six months ago, when it started causing serious discomfort when eating, breathing, or holding our son,” the mom said.
After a co-worker suggested it may be a hernia, Horn went to see a doctor, who made the diagnosis. During her hernia repair procedure in January, the doctor discovered she actually had three hernias. She’s still recovering from the surgery today.
“I’m convinced that after a C-section and triple hernia repair, I will never have proper strength back in my abs or a pain-free day,” Horn told HuffPost. “My C-section scar still hurts to this day on top of the repaired hernia areas, but we make the best of it. At least eating, breathing, and holding my son is no longer uncomfortable, so that’s a win.”
Horn hopes that her story shows women in similar situations that they are not alone. She also wants mothers to realize that no matter what they’ve gone through or how they look now, their bodies “created a miracle” and the physical effects show off the strength it took to do that.
“I hope that women will be inspired to love their bodies more, even if they haven’t had children, because our bodies really do tell stories,” she explained. “Those of us who have become ‘less than ideal’ over time just have the scars, stretch marks, bruises, etc. to show it and remind us that we are warriors.”